Alexis Nikole Nelson, aka BlackForager, Wins James Beard Media Award

Columbus resident Alexis Nikole Nelson, who has a cookbook coming out in 2023, won a 2022 James Beard Media Award during a ceremony in Chicago.

Erin Edwards
Columbus Monthly
Alexis Nikole Nelson is behind the popular TikTok and Instagram videos based on her experience and advice on foraging.

Openings & Announcements 

Alexis Nikole Nelson, the local forager and social media star, has added a James Beard Media Award to her growing resume. The awards, which recognize journalists, food authors, broadcast producers, podcasters, content creators and others, were held over the weekend in Chicago. Nelson, who has gained millions of followers on TikTok (@alexisnikole) and Instagram (@blackforager), was triumphant in the social media account category of the James Beard Media Awards. Columbus Alive first profiled Nelson in February 2021. Since then, she has been profiled by The New York Times and Bon Appétit, appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show and inked a cookbook deal with Simon Element, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Past James Beard Media Award winners who call Columbus home include Jeni Britton for her cookbook “Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home” and Faith Durand for “The Kitchn Cookbook.” Here’s a full list of the 2022 James Beard Media Award winners

Chef Catie Randazzo’s popular food truck Challah!, which is no longer in operation, will return for a limited series of pop-ups in the coming months. The first will take place 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, at The Jury Room (22 E. Mound St.). 

The Short North has a new smoothie spot. Rio Fresh Café has taken over the former Philco space at 747 N. High St. This is the second location for Rio Fresh, which also calls Downtown Columbus home at 50 N. High St. The café features a healthful menu of smoothies, smoothie bowls, pressed juices, salads, rice bowls and croissant sandwiches. 

In truly bizarre news, the former owner of Gahanna’s Koko Tea Salon & Bakery, Ava Virginia Misseldine, was arrested by federal agents last Thursday in Utah. Federal authorities allege Misseldine lived a double life for decades after having stolen the identity of a baby named Brie Bourgeois, who died in 1979. Misseldine is charged with Social Security number fraud, passport fraud, aggravated identity theft and “fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency benefits,” according to a criminal complaint. Misseldine had been profiled by Columbus Monthly in 2014 and Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” The Daily Beast has more here.  

Quinci Emporium has reopened in its new location at 11 Buttles Ave. in the Short North. Deborah Quinci’s home for Italian cooking classes, demonstrations and wine tastings also offers shelves stocked with wines, pastas, sauces and other gourmet offerings. Its new hours are noon-6 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, noon-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday. You can sign up for classes at

Dulce Vida Ice Cream & Treats has relocated from its location on Home Acre Drive to a much larger space at 6146 Cleveland Ave., located just north of its previous address. The new Dulce Vida storefront features a larger seating area and arcade games.